SWINDON Town’s management team will sit down with Nile Ranger this weekend to discuss the striker’s future.
Ranger, who was acquitted of rape charges by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday, has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a hamstring tear and will see his current contact at the County Ground expire this summer.
Town have the option to extend his time in Wiltshire by a further year should they so wish but Cooper revealed that he and owner Lee Power are not going to jump at the chance without considering all the potential ramifications.
The process of deciding whether or not to retain Ranger’s services, therefore, will begin in earnest when the forward returns from the north east this weekend and the club have the chance to meet with him and his representatives.
Cooper said: “We have to have a meeting with Nile and myself and Lee at the weekend and we’ll sit down and see where we go.
“The pace he sprinted at out of the dock the other day, he might be fit for Saturday. I wish I could run that fast.
“We don’t know what the end of the season is going to hold and what position we’re going to be in. We have to make sure our recruitment is spot on and every player we bring in is correct for the football club.
Having stuck by Ranger despite the striker missing several training sessions over the course of the past eight months, some might suggest it would be odd for Swindon not to extend the frontman’s deal and capitalise on either his talents or his potential resale value.
Cooper, however, intimated that keeping Ranger might not be in the best interests of his squad in the long run.
“I think there are a lot of factors you have to consider the whole group when it comes to Nile and the disruption it can cause,” he said. “There are a lot of factors and we need to sit down with Nile and find out what he wants to do and where his head is.
“I don’t think the playing side has ever been in doubt. The playing side is not the problem. If it was purely football that would have been done by now, he’s the best striker in the league I think.”
Minus the burden of an impending trial, Ranger may well have been a big asset to Town in the final 12 games of the League One campaign – not that Cooper was tempted to delve into the striker’s complicated psyche, instead suggesting that job should be left for psychics and, bizarrely, Russian leaders.
He said: “How do I judge Nile Ranger’s mental state? It’s not for a football manager to talk about his mental state. It needs to be a clairvoyant maybe, somebody like that, a spiritual healer, Putin? Someone like that. Not me.
“I think he’s the best number nine in the league so you’d be foolish to say he wouldn’t (have made a difference) but we’re not going to have that luxury.”